Ocean Energy Makes a Splash in the US With US Navy Partnership
Irish wave energy technology company, Ocean Energy, has announced that its pioneering wave energy convertor, the ‘OE Buoy’, will be built in the United States by Oregon-based marine-fabrication company Vigor, and deployed at the US Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site on the Hawaiian Island of O’ahu in autumn 2018. The contract value is €5.25 million out of a total project value of almost €10 million for this first of a kind grid-scale project at the Hawaiian test site.
Commenting on this positive development, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, said: “Building on the Irish-US government MoU for collaboration on marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies’ research, Ocean Energy and its partners are demonstrating how transatlantic cooperation can yield immensely productive results — Irish innovation coupled with US engineering is providing the US Navy Wave Energy Test Site with sustainable and logistical gains and a template for future large-scale projects.”
John McCarthy, Ocean Energy Chief Executive Officer, said: “It’s the combination of Irish innovation and American manufacturing expertise and that’s always going to produce a world-class result. We are delighted to be partnering with Vigor, a renowned US marine and industrial fabrication company, who have a track record of delivering cutting edge engineering projects. This internationally significant project will be invaluable to job creation, renewable energy generation and greenhouse gas reduction.”
John McCarthy added: “With the support of Enterprise Ireland, we have been actively pursuing opportunities in North America. The marine renewables market is rapidly expanding, with the potential of marine energy meeting a significant percentage of the global energy demand. The United States has a substantial wave energy resource, which could deliver up to 15 percent of its annual electricity demand, which would represent a considerable market in electricity sales alone.”
Sean Davis, Regional Director of Enterprise Ireland North America, said: “Irish SMEs are ranked number one for innovation in Europe and this is a key differentiator that helps Irish companies win business around the world. Ocean Energy typifies the type of world-class technology innovation that emanates from Ireland that’s delivering advantages for companies internationally. Enterprise Ireland has invested in and supported Ocean Energy to win business abroad, with a particular focus on gaining traction in North America. Their partnership with Vigor and the US Navy is a milestone development, which paves the way for further international expansion for the company.”
The €10 million project is part-funded by the US Department of Energy’s office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), under a 2012 agreement committing the American and Irish governments to collaborating on marine hydrokinetic technologies.
“SEAI invests in research and innovation to promote the development of new technologies. For a number of years, we have supported Ocean Energy and are delighted to see them reach the significant milestone of full scale sea trials. It is also great to see Irish companies benefitting from continued US Ireland collaboration in sustainable energy, and using the wave energy facilities and resources to best effect,” stated Jim Gannon, CEO, SEAI.
The 750-tonne “OE Buoy” measures 38 x 18 metres with a draught of 9 metres and has a potential rated capacity of up to 1.25 MW in electrical power production. In Ireland, each deployed commercial device could reduce CO2 emissions by over 4,370 tonnes annually, which for a utility-scale wave farm of 100 MW could amount to over 218,000 tonnes of CO2 in a full year. It is estimated that a 100 MW wave farm could power up to 47,000 Irish homes. The technology could deliver up to 15,000 jobs to the Irish Economy by 2030 and go on to create substantial export potential both for the technology and the energy generated.